Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist?

It’s common for people to be confused about the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. Both are qualified to help deal with mental health concerns. Both are trained to practice psychotherapy and talk to patients about their issues. Both are usually covered by health insurance programs. But they are very different in their educational backgrounds, and how they may approach solving your problems.

About Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with an M.D. degree who have the same education as other doctors. They know how the human body works, the treatments for medical conditions and medication interactions.

After medical school, psychiatrists for one year have a medical internship, then three years of residency training treating mental health disorders. They learn how to treat psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and provide patients with behavioral therapy methods.

Psychiatrists can diagnose mental disorders and can write prescriptions for medicines that can treat a patient’s disorder.

As doctors, psychiatrists may explore how a medical condition contributes to a patient’s problems. For example, you may feel depressed because you have a thyroid deficiency, connective tissue disorder, chronic infections or other conditions.

About Psychologists

Psychologists do not hold a medical degree, but do obtain a doctoral degree as either a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). If they have only a Master of Science (M.S.), then they work supervised by a Ph.D. or Psy.D. They study the mind and human behavior. Psychologists learn how to give psychological tests, such as personality or IQ tests.

Psychologists may discuss how your childhood, parents, or family members affect your mental health. They may discuss how your work, eating and sleeping patterns might contribute to your problems.

A psychologists can refer a patient with severe symptoms to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications.